Has your kitchen been overrun by tiny flying pests that don’t seem to be fruit flies? If so, you’re probably dealing with a minor infestation of either fungus gnats or drain flies. These small flies in the kitchen can be quite annoying, but they’re relatively easy to deal with.
Here are the basics:
- Gnats of all types often infest kitchens.
- Some of the most common gnats include drain flies, fungus gnats, and fruit flies (yes, fruit flies are a type of gnat).
- There are several home remedies you can use to clear a gnat infestation, and you probably won’t need to call an exterminator.
In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the ways you can deal with these pesky bugs, as well as some of the causes of the infestation. If you want to be rid of your unwelcome guests once and for all, you’ve come to the right place!
Read on for more.
Identifying the Pest: Small Flies in the Kitchen
If you’re reading this article, you’ve most likely already done some kind of identification to determine that the buzzing insects in your kitchen aren’t fruit flies. Fruit flies, drain flies, and fungus gnats are three of the most common pests to infest a house. They’re all just a little too small and zippy to really get a sense of what they look like.
If you can get a decent look at one staying still, here are the basic characteristics that will help you figure out what you’ve got.
1. Check The Eye Color
You’ll know that you’re dealing with fruit flies if the insects are brown with red eyes. They are generally rounder in shape and can often be found in kitchens, or any room with an abundance of fresh organic materials, including bathrooms.
2. Does it Have Moth-Like Wings?
Drain flies are almost invisible to the naked eye, they are similar in size to fruit flies. They are fuzzy with more moth-like wings, and get their name from their enthusiasm for drains, where they like to lay their eggs.
3. Long, Mosquito-Style Legs
Finally, fungus gnats are black flying insects with long legs. They look more like mosquitoes than flies.
You’ll find them around any potted plants in your kitchen or anywhere else that might have an outbreak of fungus – hence the name.
Eliminate the Source
Any pest that has made its home in your house won’t stick around for long if they don’t have anything to feed on. So, your first course of action should be to ensure that all of your fresh produce is stored in the refrigerator or inside sealed bins.
Your first course of action should be to ensure that all of your fresh produce is stored in the refrigerator or inside sealed bins.
It helps to keep any fruits that ripen quickly, like grapes, apples, peaches, and melons, in low-humidity crisper drawers. What’s more, produce prone to wilting should be stored in high-humidity crisper drawers.
We suggest washing your bananas and then leaving them on the countertop. Once they’re ripe, put them in the fridge or peel them first and store them in the freezer for smoothies.
Another good habit to get into is to rinse and dry your vegetables when you get home from the store. There could be some eggs or minute larvae on them that will thrive in your kitchen if you don’t wash them down the drain.
Dealing with Drain Flies
Unfortunately, a bit more effort is required to get rid of drain flies. It’s essential that you clean your plumbing lines and traps as often as possible, as drain flies prefer sewage, bacteria, and the general muck in your drains.
This becomes particularly important during hot, humid weather.
To clean your drains, pour an equal-part solution of vinegar and baking soda down them, and give it five minutes to work its magic. After that, follow it up with boiling water.
More stubborn blockages will require a deeper treatment, so consider getting your hands on a drain cleaner to flush your pipes out.
What about Bleach?
It’s not a good idea to pour bleach down your drains, though we are aware that people often recommend it. Yes, it will work, but bleach can collect in the traps, and if you later pour ammonia in there, you can accidentally make poison gas!
Stick with boiling water or other options for pouring down the drains.
Ridding Your Home Of Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats prefer infesting houseplants. If you’ve got flies in your plants, they’re probably fungus gnats (though fruit flies sometimes infest fruit plants). Put your green thumb to work and repot your plants into some fresh soil. This is not only great for the plants but will also reduce the gnats in your home, as they’ll have no more old soil to infest.
Remember that fungus gnats thrive on moisture and humidity, so try not to overwater your plants.
You could also consider buying a dehumidifier for the more humid parts of your home, keeping humidity under 50% – the point at which bacteria begins to thrive.
Are Gnats Dangerous?
Sure, gnats do have a habit of biting humans, but it’s essential to remember that the word ‘gnat’ is used to refer to a variety of species under the same umbrella term. This label includes any tiny, winged insects, including fruit flies, sewer flies, black flies, and drain flies.
Some of these airborne pests can bite, though not all gnats have the hardware to bite into people. Fruit flies, for example, cannot bite.
Male gnats prefer to feed on nectar, while their female counterparts prefer to feast on blood, as they require it to produce fertile eggs. Using their piercing teeth to poke holes in the skin of their targets, they leave distinctly different bite marks compared to bugs and mosquitos.
Male gnats prefer to feed on nectar, while their female counterparts prefer to feast on blood, as they require it to produce fertile eggs.
When gnats bite humans, they inject anti-clotting agents into the bloodstream to stop the wound from healing before they’ve gotten their fill. Because of this, gnat bites actually end up being more sore than many other common pest bites.
Gnat bites often occur on uncovered skin. Generally speaking, these bites are red and itchy, and some minor swelling may also occur.
Some gnat bite cases are known to transfer infections that usually affect livestock. Constantly scratching a gnat bite can cause the open sore to become infected.
Causes of Gnat Infestation
Fruit flies and various other gnats can enter houses through screens and open doors or enter your house as larvae and eggs that may be sitting on your fresh produce. The latter, however, only happens in rare cases, as fruit and vegetables are put through rigorous cleaning processes throughout the shelf life.
Gnats can lay up to 500 eggs at a time! So once an infestation starts, it can last for quite some time. As for fungus gnats, these critters are drawn to moist soil, so they will be attracted to any dying houseplants you may be harboring.
Preventing Gnat Infestations
There are three simple steps that you’ll want to take if you want to prevent a gnat infestation in the future:
- Keep them out of the house! This includes putting tight-fitting screens on your doors and windows to ensure that the gnats are kept outside.
- Make sure that you discard your fruits and vegetables in such a way that they are difficult for gnats to infest. Non-decaying fruits and vegetables should be kept in the refrigerator, preferably in closed containers.
- Keep trash cans, food containers, compost bins, and sink drains clean to prevent flies from feasting on their contents.
Do Gnat Infestations Go Away?
If you are currently dealing with an infestation of gnats, then it helps to know the steps you can implement to rid yourself of these pests. Depending on your area’s climate, gnats might just leave by themselves. But it’s not always viable to wait for extreme cold or heat for this to happen.
If you are currently dealing with an infestation of gnats, then it helps to know the steps you can implement to rid yourself of these pests.
Here are some home remedies that you can use to get rid of gnats:
1. Apple cider vinegar traps
These are simple traps that you can make at home and are some of the most effective at getting rid of gnats.
Here’s how they work:
- Fill a medium-sized container with some apple cider vinegar.
- Add a splash of dish soap.
- Use plastic wrap to cover the container.
- Using a pin or a toothpick, poke several holes in the wrap.
- Change out the solution daily to make sure that it’s effective.
With this trap, the gnats will be attracted to the scent of the apple cider vinegar. They’ll crawl into the holes and, once inside, will become trapped by the slipperiness of the dish soap and eventually drown. Once enough gnats are trapped inside, you can dispose of the solution however you wish – we recommend washing it down the drain.
You can also purchase indoor bug light traps, which use UV light to attract flies and gnats, and sticky paper to trap them.
2. Sanitize your drains
Garbage disposals and kitchen drains are often hotspots for gnat activity. If you want to ensure that you don’t have to deal with drain flies that feed on the rotting material in pipes, consider pouring one of these home remedies into your drain:
- Plain boiling water (at least twice a week)
- Equal parts of half a cup of baking soda, salt, and vinegar (rinse your drain using boiling water once you have used this method)
- We do not recommend bleach, for the reasons discussed above
Though these methods can be effective in decreasing the number of gnats infesting your home, they might not be the most permanent solution. For starters, traps are only really effective at catching adult gnats.
However, with regular sanitization over a period of a couple of weeks, your problem should gradually fade and then disappear completely without needing to hire a pest control expert.
If all else fails and you can’t get rid of the small bugs in your kitchen, it’s time to hire a pro.
Your best bet when trying to get rid of a bug infestation is to speak to your local pest exterminator. A trained specialist will develop a plan for the best mode of pest control and will help get rid of the entire infestation in one fell swoop.
What’s more, if you do hire an exterminator, and the gnats return after they have treated your home, you may be eligible for another treatment at a discounted price or even for free.